So, you’ve decided to try Keto…Excellent!
You’ve made the right decision to try Keto to improve your health, lose weight, etc…. for whatever your reasoning, congratulations on your decision. But where to begin and how to prepare to put your decision into action?
I’m going to tell you right now that, like all big decisions and changes in life, it may not be an easy road at the beginning. With proper preparation and support you can get through easier and more successful. And trust me, it is worth any trouble you may go through.
I don’t mean to scare you away from Keto. I simply mean to inform you that there will be effort required on your part, some potential for challenges and possibly some short term ill feelings. Most will not tell you about this until you find yourself smack in the middle of feeling crummy. This is called the Keto-Flu. Not to worry, you can prepare for an easier transition, ease the symptoms and feel great quickly.
Preparation #1: Weaning yourself from carbs
Living in the world of processed foods, delicious treats and convenience has our bodies trained to turn carbohydrates into glucose and used for instant energy. Any excess glucose turns into fat and is stored. Any fat consumed and not used also is stored for later use. Which we know well and good will never arrive.
If the goal is a maximum of 20 net carbs daily on Keto then you need to do yourself and begin weaning from your current eating habits towards this goal. Did you know the SAD consists of 350 grams of carbohydrates a day? Holy cow! This includes natural and not-so-natural sugars, flours, and high carbohydrate foods such as beans and potatoes. Yes, beans and potatoes are bad for you. Rice is also off limits. As is corn.
Plan to wean yourself over a period of about 2 weeks. During this time, be forgiving when you accidentally go over your daily count or eat something you later realize is not keto. Check the labels and ingredient lists of foods you purchase for those surprises and track your consumption in a journal or food app.
What happens when you don’t wean off the carbs and go cold turkey? Pain and discomfort. Your body will go through withdraw and you will feel terrible. You can do this, many do, but I do not recommend this.
Preparation #2: Learn more about Keto, macros and restrictions
What is Keto? Keto, short for Ketogenic Diet/Lifestyle, is a method of consumption with high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrates, also referred to as macros. A macro calculator can help you to set your goals and identify your macros to achieve your goals.
Most people who follow Keto mostly track their carbs and aim for no more than 20 net grams of carbs daily. To figure out the net carbs, simply take the total carbs and subtract fiber and sugar alcohols.
For example: 1 Avocado = 322 calories, 29g fat, 17g carbs, 4g protein, 13g fiber
- 322 calories is not so important, even though we’re used to counting calories, this is less important
- 29 grams of fat seems high, but according to your macros you may be allowed 100+ grams of fat daily to stay within your macros, will be very filling and is a great sources of potassium
- 4 grams of protein is fairly low and should be tracked for your daily consumption as excess will act as a carb
- 17 grams of carbohydrates is fairly high considering 20 grams in your total for the day, but if you subtract the fiber and sugar alcohols (17-13-0=4) then it is only 4 net carbs
There are so many great, valuable resources available to you free of charge (my favorite price). Review Preparation #3 for some helpful resources and support.
Restrictions: There are so many foods that I thought were healthy, even though I knew my body wasn’t processing them quite right. I thought beans, rice, corn and soy were great for me. Well, chemicals, GMOs and the estrogen distruptors were of concern, but I thought in general they were healthy. Turns out they are not at all healthy! These foods were high in carbohydrates creating huge insulin responses, creating quick spikes and even quicker crashes. It doesn’t end there. Most fruits, all grains, honey and agave, and even potatoes are a big no-no on Keto.
Check out the Ketogenic Diet Food List: Everything you need to know by Ruled.me for some great ideas on what you can eat and a few more ideas about what to avoid.
When shopping, take your time to learn about the food you’re buying. Check the labels for nutritional information and read the list of ingredients for hidden flours and sugars. When in doubt, eat real meat and vegetables…a steak cooked in butter and broccoli with hollandaise drizzled over, pan roasted salmon and brussel sprouts with home made bacon bits all cooked in bacon grease, bacon wrapped pork chops with mashed cauliflower and salad, a favorite breakfast for dinner of scrambled cheesy eggs with bacon, zucchini and avocado.
There are a few places to find a macro calculator, but so far my favorite has been the Keto Calculator on Ruled.me. It’s easy to use and seems fairly accurate to leading me to great results. If you use Carb Manager, a phone app, you can adjust their calculator to Keto macros (5% fat, etc.) and get good information…but you have to pay monthly for the subscription. If I had known about the Keto Calculator on Ruled.me I think I would have used MyFitnessPal or another free app as I was learning about how to eat and what my macros look like on a day-to-day.
Preparation #3: Find support and resources
I haven’t always had the best of luck with complicated dishes or desserts. The best meals have been simple and easy and taste like the food they are with simple elevations to enhance it’s natural taste. I also haven’t had much luck with cookbooks or random recipes on the Internet.
I have had great success with recipes that are simple and shared by people who have already made them! I find these in Keto recipe groups on Facebook and from friends. I also have learned to slightly modify some regular recipes to suit my Keto needs.
Here are a few places where I have found great recipes posted on Facebook groups:
I also share recipes on this site here in the Recipes section and in the BeckDoes Keto…And, So Can You! Facebook group. Check them out and be sure to add links to your favorite recipes in the comments to help others find good recipes.
If you’ve found a guide that would be helpful for beginners, please share in the comments.
Keto Support Groups & a Keto-Buddy:
You will need support. I find the support and encouragement with my husband, mom, coworkers and friends. I used to have to do diets and healthy stuff on my own and it was tremendously difficult. One time my husband joined me for a weight loss group provided through our health care system. It was nice that he was there but he was a real downer and I ended up getting discouraged and not wanting to go. You need support and encouragement for those days that you just are falling off the track or need some ideas, share food and complaints with. I mean, I even went online and asked women in a Keto for PCOS group if their breasts were tender! I can’t ask my husband that. My body was changing and I needed to know if I was the only one and should go to the doctor or if it was normal. BTW, it’s totally normal for breast tenderness and PMS to occur and it does calm down a bit as your body adjusts to being healthier.
Bottom line, get yourself some support. Get yourself a Keto-Buddy! A lot of people are doing Keto now, so if you post a question about anyone following Keto in your neighborhood’s Facebook page I bet you’d find at least one to be Keto-buddies with. Someone you can chat with, go on walks with, share recipes and laugh about recipe disasters with. Yes, you’ll have recipe disasters and it’s funnier when someone can relate.
- BeckDoes Keto…And, So Can You!
- Keto for PCOS (I have PCOS)
- Browse around Facebook. You can find Keto for Woman, Vegan Keto Made Simple, Keto for Beginners, and so many more! And if a group just isn’t for you, find another. You can join as many groups as you’d like. Facebook is great!
I started a local Keto group on Facebook and recently met someone looking for a Keto-Buddy. She’s really nice and I look forward to meeting with her tomorrow after work to go for a walk. I’m super excited! I hope to make a difference for her, and I’m sure she’ll have some ideas and thoughts that I just haven’t considered…not to mention she will be holding me accountable to get out and move my body in the fresh air.
Keto Medical Professionals:
- Dr. Ken Barry
- Dr. Eric Berg
- You can check out Keto Clinician Finder to find a medical professional near you to support your new lifestyle. I will say though, many medical professionals are not just coming around to “allow” their patients to do Keto, but they are encouraging Keto and doing it themselves. So before you find a new Dr, ask your current doc about Keto and see what happens.
Preparation #4: Dealing with the Keto-flu and becoming Feto-adapted
The Keto-flu isn’t really a flu but it isn’t enjoyable. When your body adjusts to using fat (consumed and stored) for energy instead of carbs it goes through a lot of changes. Your body has been using the easiest source for energy most (or probably all) of your life and making the change is difficult mentally and physically.
You can expect to have some withdraw symptoms, such as headaches, cravings and feeling bad for a few days. To ease the symptoms remember that you’re doing this for a good reason, increase your electrolytes, get plenty of good rest and if you’re hungry eat keto-approved food. I would eat as much as I want and not worry about tracking too much other than carbs during this time. Drink plenty of fluid, and increase your potassium, sodium and magnesium. You can do this by drinking pickle juice, olive juice or supplementing with vitamins or other electrolyte mixes.
You will likely notice an immediate weight loss and even excess energy during this time. Your body doesn’t have the carbs to hold on to the water and will be flushing out of your system. With that water goes your electrolytes, which is why it’s so important to replenish. That weight loss can be huge. It won’t come back unless you stop following Keto. Your body is no longer retaining water.
Your body may take 2-3 weeks to be fully Fat-Adapted…that means your body is efficient at using fat for energy now. It also means that if you don’t consume enough fat to keep up with the energy needs your body will use the stored fat for energy. This will help your weight loss further and will continue until you reach your goal and you find you’re in what is commonly referred to as “Maintenance.”
If you’re close to your goal weight you will get to Maintenance much quicker than others. While I’ve lost over 65 pounds to date, I have about 100 to go until I’m able to add more carbs (healthy carbs) and fat to create a balance of intake to meet the needs of my body on a daily basis. I don’t worry about this now. But I have a good friend who is in Maintenance and she’s added more fat and increased her carbs a bit…she’s even has sweet potatoes on occasion.
Anyhow, once you’re fat-adapted you will want to really pay attention to your body, add exercise and supplement, if necessary. I have personally found exercise to be difficult for me because I’ve got an underlying Adrenal issue that I am also dealing with. When I exercise I have plenty of energy and feel pretty darn good. But when I’m done my adrenals act up and I have extreme inflammation, feel tired, get migraines and other “great” things. It helps to identify which body type you are by taking the Body Type Quiz for free from Dr. Berg on his website. The information helps you to modify the diet, exercise, address specific issues that may be hindering your success with Keto as other health issues need attention, like your thyroid or hormones.
My day to day includes moderate exercise achieved at work walking around. I stay Keto but have modified to include less fat and more protein. I also do my best to stay under 20g net carbs daily…unless I’m about the start my cycle and then I eat as much as I want as long as it’s Keto (including extra steaks and chocolate). I do my best to limit my stress and I take supplements to fill in nutritional gaps, address my adrenal fatigue, allergies and PCOS. I’m a hot mess…but I’m dealing with it and still easily seeing success.
Preparation #5: Exercise, setting goals & tracking
If you’re already exercising, you may want to take it a little easy the first few days (not stop, but maybe not run a marathon) until you’re through the keto-flu and on your way to becoming fat-adapted. If you don’t exercise, I’d wait until you feel the energy to do so. Trust me, you will feel it. I don’t exercise much but I sure do see the house getting cleaner and I’m cooking a whole lot more than I used to!
Depending upon the needs of your body, you might want to ease into exercise. As mentioned in the section prior, according to Dr. Berg’s Body Type the Adrenal Body requires a slow re-entry into exercise and it’s not the same as the other body types. I have friends who I wish I could keep up with. Their body types are very different from my own, not to mention I have let my damage fester for much longer, but they are running and doing all kinds of great exercises and just having a fun outdoor life.
As for setting goals, using the macros you’ve calculated and the identified body type, now you can set reasonable goals for yourself. I like a long-term goal with some benchmarks. For instance, my long term goal is to weight 165 lbs with my benchmarks at 250, 225 and 200. Realistically, I can’t see myself less than 200 lbs and figured I will reassess when I get there. Now that its been a successful 7 months, I think I could easily get there in the next year or so without too many issues. My adrenals are improving, as is my inflammation, mental health and migraines.
Weight is NOT the only way to measure success. In fact, tracking your weight isn’t the best way to measure success. It’s ideal to measure yourself in various areas of your body, such as your head, neck, chest, waist, hips and thighs. Keeping track of the inches lost around your body is a much better indicator of your success than the scale. In addition, you can keep track of your clothing size and how loose they are becoming, as well as, how you feel, how often you need certain medications, etc. I can’t help but to track my weight, so I do that. But I also keep track of how I feel, the medications I’m able to remove or lower, and the clothes I’m donating to the local women’s shelter. If you’re looking for a great Smart Scale with all the bells and whistles but not the high price tag, check out this post I wrote about the new scale we bought (it measures BMI and all sorts of things!). Of course, don’t forget to keep track of your internals by taking blood tests from your doctor, if possible.
What to keep track of:
- Clothing sizes
- Medication needs and changes
- Blood workup: hormones, cholesterol, a1c, etc.
Keto journals and tracking apps:
If you have a favorite, please mention it in the comments so others can discover more options available to them on their Keto journey.
Preparation #6: Be prepared for success!
The weirdest part about Keto is that it works. I know you’re thinking, “Duh! That’s why you’re reading this because it’s supposed to work.” But after many decades of failed diet and exercise attempts, I wasn’t really feeling like Keto would work. I thought it would be like all the others…ultimate failure. And then…it wasn’t!
It’s been over 7 months and my husband and I are still doing well, still losing weight, still feeling great, still have increased energy overall, still have better mental clarity and have hope! I now have hope I could get healthy enough to get pregnant. I now have hope that I won’t have to shop in the Plus size section of the department stores with limited options. I now have hope that I can feel better and get off my medication. I now have hope that I can return to work and succeed. I have so much hope I cannot believe it! I personally feel like Keto is a godsend and I’m excited to share it with anyone who is interested.
My advice: Give Keto a try. Cut out the carbs and you won’t die. You can still have keto-approved snacks and foods that are delicious (yes, soda and chocolate). Get yourself plugged into a facebook group with recipes and support, even if it’s not BeckDoes. Get yourself someone to go through this with to provide one another with ideas, support and encouragement. Give yourself a chance to be successful and have hope again!
If there is anything you’d like to share for anyone looking to begin Keto, please add it in the comments. We are a community of support and I love sharing our experiences, hopes, dreams, recipes, failed experiments, and successes.
Remember: Sharing is Caring!!